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Join us for the latest on the best in extraordinary fictional television and film from the past, present and future, and analysis on its cultural impacts.

Find out about the amazing facts in fiction, and discover the truth about what's really going on in the World around us...

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The original Holly from Red Dwarf ...

 

Norman Lovett was well into his thirties before he decided to be a stand-up comedian. He played the original Comedy Store many times and even supported The Clash, which he considers the favourite moment in his career.

Television and radio followed, including the role that he's most known for in Cult TV circles, the original Holly in Red Dwarf - in the first, second and eighth series, along with "Nanarchy", the final episode of the seventh series.

Norman's other television appearances include Don't Miss Wax, The Young Ones, Rab C Nesbitt, Pajamarama, Happy Families, Lenny Henry Tonight, The Tube, Later… with Jools Holland, Weekend In Wallop, Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, Is It Bill Bailey?,Baby Baby, Just For Laughs, Gordon the Gopher, Eastenders, The Bill, and his own series, I, Lovett.

His film career includes playing a police computer expert in "The Criminal", written and directed by Julian Simpson and starring Bernard Hill, Eddie Izzard and Stephen Macintosh, and playing one of the leads, a driving test examiner, in "Feedback", written and directed by Chris Atkins.

Norman's radio gigs include "Loose Ends", "To Boldly Go", and "The News Quiz". He starred as Clegg the Butler in Ben Traver's “Spotted Dick” at the Watford Palace Theatre. Commercial and voiceover work includes spots for Sony, First Direct, Sugar Puffs, Blockbuster Video, BMW, Grolsch, Nationwide, UCI Cinemas, and The Discovery Channel.

He also appeared in rock band Intro2's music video "Clear", playing Holly alongside fellow Red Dwarf stars Craig Charles and Danny John Jules.

Norman has worked on "The Lovett and Barrie" stand-up tour with Chris Barrie, and has had sellout seasons of solo stand-up shows at the Edinburgh Festival. He's currently recording a pilot for BBC Radio 4, which he has his fingers crossed will go to a full series.

Norman was a guest at the Cult TV Festivals in 1996, 1997, and most recently in 2006.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

From Star Trek to The X Files, Kim is not only an accomplished actress but also an acting teacher...

 

For many years, Kim Darby’s entry in the Star Trek universe, playing the title character in the episode "Miri", was one of a quartet of original series stories 'withdrawn' by the BBC from being screened. In fact, it was the initial screening of "Miri" in 1971 on BBC1 that caused the Corporation to cast a careful eye over future episodes. There had been several complaints concerning the story depicting children attacking adults, and so the episode remained unseen on Auntie Beeb for over two decades.

Kim recently re-acquainted herself with Cult TV audiences when she took the role of Kathy Lee Tencate in the episode "Sein und Zeit", part of Season Seven of The X Files.

Between these two markers has been a very busy and varied career.

A show business baby, Kim's parents were Jon and Inga Zerby, a dance team that toured nationally as 'The Dancing Zerbys', primarily playing hotels in Miami and Las Vegas. The Zerbys were performers going back three generations, so it was immediately assumed that their baby would go into the family trade.

Realising that all the most popular people in her school were drama students, Kim asked to go to acting school. Her grandmother took her to coach Tony Barr, who ran the Desilu Workshop, located in what is now Paramount Pictures Studios. Barr initially refused Kim on the grounds that she was too young for his classes, but she was allowed to audition, and, much impressed, Barr accepted her into his school of professional adult actors.

Some months later, agent Jimmy McHugh Jr visited class, saw Kim's scene work, and asked to represent her. Kim made her professional acting debut on television at sixteen, guest starring in the series Mr Novack and made her first film appearance that same year, not as an actress, but as a dancer in "Bye Bye Birdie".

Television guest roles following this were many, including Run for Your Life, Judd for the Defense, Gunsmoke, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Ironside, The Road West, The Fugitive, Ben Casey and Dr Kildare.

Then came "True Grit".

 

Starring opposite screen icon John Wayne, at the age of only twenty, Kim was considered for a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a drama for her performance, but actually got one that year for her role in the musical "Generation" instead (she has also received three Emmy nominations over the years, plus Best Actress awards from the New York Critics Circle Awards, the Film Editors Awards, the Dramalogue Theatre Awards, as well as the 'Star of the Year Award' from the National Association of Theatre Owners).

On television, she has gone on to appear in a host of other series, including For The People, Becker, Dark Realm, Profiler, Scarecrow and Mrs King, Riptide, Crazy Like A Fox, Murder, She Wrote, Hotel, Trapper John MD, Baretta, Petrocelli, The Streets of San Francisco, Police Story, Marcus Welby MD, and Cool Million. She also starred in the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man, and the TV movies Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, The Capture of Grizzly Adams, Embassy, Summer Girl, First Steps (with Judd Hirsch), Pretty Boy Floyd (with Martin Sheen), and Enola Gay.

Other big screen movie performances have included "Better Off Dead", "Mockingbird Don’t Sing", "Halloween – The Curse of Michael Myers", "Teen Wolf Too", "The Last Best Sunday", "Newsbreak", "The One and Only", "The Grissom Gang", "Norwood" and "The Strawberry Statement".

In 1988, Kim began teaching acting classes at the University of California, Los Angeles, and shortly thereafter in her own school as well. Highly regarded by both the university and her students, she preaches learning in a safe place, and that acting is a skill that can and should be refined by study. As an actress who is continually working in her trade, she is able to bring to her students her continuing experiences and expertise.

We were delighted when Kim joined us in October 2005 for that year's Cult TV Festival.

 

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The young star of The Rifleman, now a singer and orchestra leader, joined us for Cult TV 2005 ...

 

Johnny Crawford comes from a family of musicians and has been a performer right from the time he learned to walk. In 1955 his singing impersonation of Johnnie Ray came to the attention of the Disney empire, and a contract was offered which saw him become one of the original Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club in the 1955-6 season. As an actor, Johnny has appeared in nearly 300 television productions, 15 films, and over a dozen plays. He received an Emmy Nomination at the age of 13 for his role as Mark McCain, the son of series star Chuck Connors in the western series The Rifleman, which ran for five seasons following its debut in 1958.

Signed by Del-Fi Records in 1961, Johnny had several American Top 40 hits in the 1960s including "Cindy's Birthday", "Rumors", "Your Nose Is Gonna Grow", "Proud", and "Patti Ann", as well as four Top 40 albums.

After graduating from Hollywood High School in 1964, Johnny appeared in a number of television series, including Branded (which again saw him co-star with Chuck Connors), Whirlybirds, Lancer, The Lone Ranger, Mister Ed, Rawhide, Hawaii Five-O, Have Gun – Will Travel, Wagon Train, The Big Valley, Cade’s County, The Frank Sinatra Show, Murder, She Wrote and Paradise. He even reprised his role from The Rifleman alongside Chuck Connors, in the TV movie The Gamble Returns: The Luck of the Draw (which starred Country Music legend Kenny Rogers). Interestingly, in an earlier instalment in this TV movie series, Johnny had played a different character, Masket, in The Gambler: The Adventure Continues.

 

He became a rodeo performer for a time, using skills he had perfected filming The Rifleman, and spent two years in the Army, where he used the commission making training films.

In 1986 he co-starred in the new TV production of The Adventures of William Tell (sometimes known as William Tell, or even Crossbow) as Prince Ignatius. Unfortunately, despite this being a UK-based production, it sank without trace on these home shores, due to the powers-that-be objecting to a format that saw the hero carrying a crossbow as his weapon of choice.

A long-time fan of dance records from the first half of the 20th century, Johnny made occasional appearances during the 1980s singing songs from this period to his own guitar accompaniment. He spent the period 1987 to 1989 in New York as the vocalist in Vince Giordano's Nighthawks Orchestra. Now Johnny enjoys singing with his own dance band as well as producing period music for films and events.

Since 1990 "The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra", a 16-piece ensemble, has gathered an enthusiastic following in Southern California, appearing at such venues as The Argyle Hotel, The Atlas Supper Club, Cicada, The Derby, Moonlight Cafe, Biltmore Hotel and The Palace. Johnny's performances at The Hollywood Athletic Club in the late 1990s garnered much attention, and are even referred to in the Elmor Leonardís novel "Be Cool" (the follow-up to "Get Shorty"). He was recently heard on the soundtrack of the George Clooney film "Welcome to Collinwood".

Visit Johnny's official website at www.crawfordmusic.com

 

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

From Star Trek to McMillan and Wife, Holmes and YoYo to The Munsters Today ...

 

John has been one of the only guest characters to feature in more than one movie in the Star Trek franchise, when he portrayed the Klingon Ambassador in both "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country". He has also featured in various Trek series – as Parn, a Cardassian legate and member of Cardassian Central Command in Deep Space Nine’s "Maquis, Part II", Chorus #2 in the Voyager episode "Muse", and Klingon Doctor Antaak in the Enterprise season 4 episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence".

He was a series regular as Sergeant/Lieutenant Charles Enright in McMillan and Wifeopposite Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James for six seasons, including the pilot movie "Once Upon A Dead Man". He starred as robot cop Gregory Yoyonovic in the fondly remembered sit-com Holmes and YoYo in 1976, a series once screened early evenings on BBC1. He took on the role of Herman Munster in The Munsters Today, the 1988 reimagining of the classic format, and played Ordell in the classic mini-series "Roots", and Jair in "Greatest Heroes Of The Bible".

Another short-run TV starring role was in the sit-com Turnabout in 1979, where he played Sam Alston, in a tale of a Buddha statue that magically causes a permanent body-swap for a happily married couple. Sharon Gless played wife Penny, but just six episodes were screened. John also featured as Murray in 1982-3's The New Odd Couple, and was in four episodes of St Elsewhere as Andrew Wegener.

Further TV work has included Babylon 5 (2 episodes as Draal), Mission Impossible, Misfits of Science, MacGyver, Time Trax, The Young Riders, NYPD Blue, Diagnosis Murder, Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (3 episodes), Titus, The Golden Girls, Diff’rent Strokes, Simon & Simon (4 episodes), Murder, She Wrote (2 episodes), Gunsmoke (2 episodes), Fantasy Island (2 episodes), Live Shot (2 episodes), The Bonnie Hunt Show (2 episodes), Cade’s Country (a 2-parter), The Love Boat (another 2-parter), Matlock, L.A. Law, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bonanza, Ironside, Partners In Crime, JJ Starbuck, Sisters, Faerie Tale Theatre, Love, American Style, Movin’ On, Hey Arnold, Arli$$, and Chicken Soup For The Soul.

TV movies have included "Project: ALF", the sequel to the TV series ALF, "Shepherd’s Flock", "Hunter", "Four Eyes and Six-Guns", "Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story", "The Trial of Old Drum", and "The Halloween That Almost Wasn't".

Born Conrad John Schuck in Boston, Massachusetts in 1940, he is the son of an English professor. Graduating from Dennison University where he had appeared in a number of plays, John got himself into regional theatre, including stints at the Cleveland Playhouse, Baltimore Centre Stage, and the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco.

It was while at ACT that director Robert Altman took an interest, and featured John as Captain Walter Kosciusko 'Painless Pole' Waldowski, the dentist, in the classic film version of "M*A*S*H" in 1970. Altman used John in further big screen ventures, including "Brewster McCloud", "McCabe and Mrs Miller", and "Thieves Like Us".

Other big screen movies have included "The Moonshine War" (with Patrick McGoohan), "Hammersmith Is Out" (with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, directed by and co-starring Peter Ustinov), "Holy Matrimony" (with Patricia Arquette and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, directed by Leonard Nimoy), "Outrageous Fortune" (with Shelley Long and Bette Midler), "Just You And Me Kid" (with George Burns and Brooke Shields), "Pontiac Moon" (with Ted Danson and May Steenburgen), "My Mum’s A Werewolf" (with John Saxon and Ruth Buzzi), "Dick Tracy" (with Warren Beatty and Madonna), "Earthbound" (with Burl Ives), "Finders Keepers" (with Pamela Stephenson and a young Jim Carrey), "Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight", "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" (directed by Woody Allen), and "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" (directed by Richard Lester). He also had an uncredited role as Wilson in "Midway".

Stage musicals have become John's big love in recent years. He has regularly appeared as Daddy Warbucks in "Annie", on Broadway as well as on tours. He had great success as Frank Butler in "Annie Get Your Gun", and has appeared in "The Sound of Music", "Peter Pan", "The Most Happy Fella" and "She Loves Me".

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

From The Six Million Dollar Man to Melrose Place, Planet Earth to Enter The Dragon, here's an actor with an incredible track record ...

 

John Saxon is a powerhouse of cult appearances on both the big and small screen. Gene Roddenberry fans will know him as 'Dylan Hunt' in the 1974 TV pilot movie Planet Earth, a second attempt at a format originally filmed with a different cast as Genesis II the year before. Eventually the format was developed into the series we now know as Andromeda.

On The Six Million Dollar Man he guest-starred as Major Frederick Sloan, who became better know thanks to the tie-in toys as arch-villain Maskatron (a role which also crossed over to The Bionic Woman)! Other regular series roles included Henry Waxman in Melrose Place, Tony Cumson in Falcon Crest, Rashid Ahmed in Dynasty, and the first incarnation of Edward Gerard in Another World.

His list of TV guest appearances in monumental, and includes outings on Kung Fu, The A Team, Burke’s Law, Gunsmoke, Dr Kildare, Bonanza, The Virginian, The Time Tunnel, Cimarron Strip, Ironside, Garrison’s Gorillas, It Takes A Thief, The Name Of The Game, The Sixth Sense, Night Gallery, Banyon, The Streets of San Francisco, The Rookies, Police Story, Banacek, Petrocelli, The Rockford Files, Starsky and Hutch, Wonder Woman, The Fantastic Journey, Westside Medical, Fantasy Island, Vega$, Hardcastle and McCormick, Scarecrow and Mrs King, Magnum PI, Masquerade, Murder She Wrote, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hotel, Monsters, Matlock, Ray Bradbury Theater, In The Heat Of The Night, and Kung Fu – The Legend Continues.

John became interested in acting as a teenager and began attending dramatic school in Manhattan while still going to New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn. A photograph of him from a summer modelling job came to the attention of a Hollywood agent and thereafter luck, ability and the then prevailing Hollywood studio system provided John with a Universal Studios Stock Contract at the age of 17, three weeks after his arrival in Los Angeles.

After much screen-testing he gained a co-starring role with Esther Williams in the 1956 drama "The Unguarded Moment". Roles in "Rock Pretty Baby", "Summer Love", "The Restless Years", "This Happy Feeling" and "The Reluctant Debutante" secured his reputation as something of a 'teenage heart throb'.

By 1960, character acting had become his trade, in movies such as "Cry Tough", "The Big Fisherman", "The Unforgiven", "The Plunderers" and "Warhunt".

In 1965 John won the role of Chuy Medina, a Mexican bandit, playing opposite Marlon Brando in "The Appaloosa". A new contract with Universal led John to appear in many of the earliest television movies, such as "Doomsday Flight" and "Winchester 73", and well as the part of Dr Ted Stuart in The New Doctors - a regular strand of the anthology series The Bold Ones, from 1969 to 1972.

He has featured in the mini-series Harold Robbins’ 79 Park Avenue, Once An Eagle, and Greatest Heroes of The Bible.

In 1973 John co-starred as Roper in "Enter the Dragon", with Bruce Lee, a film that has achieved classic cult status. John has now appeared in over 100 feature films, including "From Dusk Till Dawn", "Strange New World", "Raid On Entebbe", "The Electric Horseman", "Battle Beyond the Stars", "Prisoners of the Lost Universe", "Cannibal Apocalypse", "Tennebrae", "Wrong Is Right", "Nightmare on Elm Street" (1 and 3), "Fever Pitch", "My Mom's a Werewolf", "The Arrival", "Aftershock", "Frame-Up II – The Cover-Up", "Night Class", "Maximum Force", "Jonathan of the Bears", "Released to Kill", "Beverly Hills Cop III", "Final Payback", "Outta Time", "Living In Fear" and "The Road Home".

John has also tried his hand at directing, having helmed "Death House" with Dennis Cole and Anthony Franciosa in 1987. Unsurprisingly, Mr Saxon has a black belt in karate!

We were delighted to have John as a guest at the Cult TV Festival 2005.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The little-seen member of The League of Gentlemen ...

 

The 'reclusive' co-writer of The League of Gentlemen, Jeremy Dyson met Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton while studying for a Philosophy degree at Leeds University.

Starting out on the London Fringe, the quartet played at the Edinburgh Festival in 1996 and, when they returned the following year, won the Perrier Award and were signed by the BBC.

Introduced to a wider audience when the award-winning On The Town With The League Of Gentlemen aired on Radio 4, the bizarre inhabitants of Royston Vasey arrived on television in 1999, winning an RTS award, BAFTA and the Golden Rose of Montreux for Best Entertainment.

While the other members relish portraying the freakish characters, except for the odd cameo role Jeremy Dyson stays behind the camera, co-writing the show and, since the second series, taking on the role of assistant producer.

Outside of The League of Gentlemen, Jeremy has co-written an episode of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) with Mark Gatiss, and written and directed the short film The Cicerones. Writing fiction since 1987, his books include the short story collection Never Trust a Rabbit, Darkness Bright and The Essex Files, co-written with Mark Gatiss.

A keen musician, Jeremy plays with the band Rudolph Rocker, described by the NME as "so good we missed the last bus home," and recently joined Joby Talbot of The Divine Comedy for the musical ghost story, The Same Dog, at London's Barbican Concert Hall.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A stalwart of the Carry On movies, Jack has featured in many TV series, including The Goodies, The Shillingbury Tales and The Good Old Days ...

 

Best known for his appearances in the Carry On films and television specials, Jack Douglas was born into a theatrical family and produced his first show at the age of fifteen.

Showing no interest in performing until an actor was taken ill and he took his place, Jack Douglas learnt his craft playing stooge to the likes of Benny Hill and Bruce Forsythe before forming an act with Jack Baker.

One night, with Baker locked out of the theatre, Jack Douglas was forced to go on alone. Fidgeting nervously infront of the bemused audience, the character of Alf Ippititimus was born.

As Alf he began a long partnership with Des O'Connor that saw them through pantomimes, summer seasons, and numerous television shows before an impressive performance on the Royal Command Variety Show and an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

A recognisable character actor, Jack Douglas appeared in Carry on Matron in 1972 and stayed with the series until the final Carry on Columbus in 1992. After appearing in an episode of The Goodies, he became a regular on Joker's Wild and played Stanley Pickersgill in Not on Your Nellie. A role in The Shillingbury Blowers led to him reprising his character in The Shillingbury Tales and the further spin-off, Cluffy, alongside Bernard Cribbins.

With many stage successes to his credit, Jack Douglas has also penned the musical, What a Performance, based on the life of entertainer Sid Field.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Star of four Doctor Who stories with three different Time Lords ...

 

Ian is famous for his numerous appearances in Doctor Who alongside Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, in "The Macra Terror" (as Questa), "Inferno" (as Bromley), and "The Seeds of Doom" (as Dr Chester). He also featured as Gregory in the first part of "The Invasion", a missing episode that is being especially animated to an existing copy of the soundtrack for release in October.

In 1970 Ian starred in ATV's first SF children's series, Timeslip. He appeared in the last two serials as Dr Frazer and his clone Alpha ’, alongside the late Dennis Quilley.

Other Television Credits include Adam Adamant Lives! “The Last Sacrifice”, Emergency Ward 10, The Big Spender, Softly Softly, Z Cars, Stand up for Nigel Barton, Mogul, Paul Temple, No Exit, Van der Valk, Spy Trap, Shoestring, Last of the Summer Wine and two episodes of The Professionals ("Private madness, public danger" and "Kickback").

Ian's theatre work includes a number of seasons and tours, including "The Mousetrap" (during 1963-4) understudying and playing both male leads.

He has also performed all the voices on the cartoon series All Talk for Central and is currently involved in providing the voices for Horrace and the Magic Motorcycle. He also appeared in the Big Finish audio drama "Catch 1782" as Professor David Munro.

Ian recently returned to acting in Explode Part 3 – "Power Struggle", in 2005, and recorded an interview "In Conversation with Ian Fairbairn" about his life as a jobbing actor, both released by Fantom Films.

Ian made an appearance at the Cult TV Festival 2006 thanks to www.cultpodcast.co.uk.

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Writers Ray and Alan were responsible for shows like Hancock and Steptoe and Son ...

 

Born a year apart, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson first met at Milford Sanatorium in 1948 while undergoing treatment for T.B. and decided to collaborate on comedy shows for the amateur radio room used for occupational therapy.

Avid listeners of Take It From Here and The Goon Show, they wrote four scripts entitled Have You Ever Wondered. After leaving the sanatorium, Alan was asked to write a show for his church concert party. He contacted Ray, and by 1951 the pair were writing professionally for the BBC.

During the next decade the pair established themselves as one of Britain's most successful comedy-writing partnerships. Working from an office over a greengrocer in Shepherd's Bush along with a crowd of writers that included Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes, they met Tony Hancock and in 1954 Ray and Alan started writing Hancock's Half Hour.

Running for 101 episodes until its final broadcast in 1959, by 1956 the radio show transferred to television with 63 episodes screened before it ended in 1961. After their Sid James vehicle Citizen James, the pair moved on to write the BBC Comedy Playhouse. From the sixteen episodes emerged Steptoe and Son, starring Wilfred Brambell and Harry H. Corbett as the two rag-and-bone men.

Over the next twelve years Steptoe and Son ran for eight series on television and five on radio. Like Hancock's Half Hour before it, the format was sold world-wide, most successfully in America where Sanford and Son topped the ratings for five years.

After adapting Gabriel Chevalier's novel Clochemerle for television, they wrote the BBC series Casanova, starring Leslie Phillips, Dawson's Weekly and seven plays for The Galton and Simpson Playhouse before Alan decided to take a sabbatical. In 1995 they got back together to update eight of their classic scripts for the first of two series of Paul Merton in Galton and Simpson's .... Three years later BBC Radio 4 celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their partnership by broadcasting four of their comedies, specially adapted by Ray and Alan, in The Galton and Simpson Radio Playhouse.

Amongst their film credits are The Rebel, starring Tony Hancock, an adaptation of Joe Orton's play Loot, and two Steptoe and Son features. For the stage they collaborated on the revue Way Out in Piccadilly and adapted Rene d'Obaldia's The Wind in the Sassafras Trees, starring Frankie Howerd, which successfully transferred from London to Broadway.

The recipients of numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Writers Guild, Ray and Alan were recognised with OBEs in the Millennium New Year's Honours.

In 2002 the BFI ran a special season culminating in the launch of a new book to commemorate forty years of Steptoe and Son, written in conjunction with Robert Ross.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Star of Paul Temple and Captain Scarlet ...

 

Schooled in classical theatre, Francis Matthews began his career as an Assistant Stage Manager at the Theatre Royal, Leeds. His first role, at the age of 17, as a schoolboy in a production of Emlyn Williams "The Corn is Green" led to two years in rep at the Oxford Playhouse, followed by subsequent leading roles in London's West End. Acting alongside Rex Harrison in "Aren't We All", and playing Badger in the National Theatre's production of "Wind in the Willows", Francis starred as Mr Darcy in the musical version of "Pride and Prejudice", which inaugurated the new Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and Professor Henry Higgins in a European tour of "My Fair Lady".

On television, Francis made guest appearances in shows such as Hancock ("The Writer"), The Avengers ("The Thirteenth Hole" and "Mission: Highly Improbable"), The Saint ("The Noble Sportsman" and "To Kill a Saint"), The Adventures of Robin Hood ("The Little People" and "The Minstrel"), the war-time spy drama O.S.S. ("Operation Powder Puff"),and the BBC’s SF anthology series Out of the Unknown.

He starred as an educated and ambitious son of a furniture producer, forcing his traditionalist father to modernise his ways, in the sit-com A Little Big Business, before landing the lead in Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's 1967 series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Basing the voice of the title character on his impersonation of actor Cary Grant, Francis played the indestructible Spectrum agent, defending the Earth from Mysteron threats.

After the success of Captain Scarlet Francis moved on to another starring role in the BBC's classic detective series, Paul Temple. Based on the character created in the 1930s by Francis Durbridge, and similar in vein to Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man, where fabulously wealthy Nick and Nora Charles become high-society sleuths, Paul Temple was similarly suave and sophisticated, but it was his success as a writer of detective novels that allowed him to become an amateur detective. Touring Europe with his wife, Steve, while solving crime, the part seemed tailor-made for Francis.

He played six characters in Alan Plater’s Trinity Tales, a contemporary reworking of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", and was a three-times guest on The Morecambe and Wise Show, as well as appearing alongside Eric and Ernie in their film comedies The Intelligence Men and That Riviera Touch.

With other television roles including Lord Peregrine Hansford in the sitcom My Man Joe, as well as parts in Don't Forget To Write, Middlemen, and A Roof Over My Head, Francis has made more recent appearances in Taggart, Tears Before Bedtime, and Jonathan Creek.

After appearing with the late Ava Gardner in the film "Bhowani Junction", Francis appeared on the big screen in "Crossplot", "Just Like A Woman", "Rasputin The Mad Monk", "Dracula: Prince of Darkness", "Murder Ahoy", "Nine Hours to Rama", "The Treasure of Monte Cristo", "The Hellfire Club", "I Only Arsked", and "The Revenge of Frankenstein". He played Noel Coward in "Ike", and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in "Moi, General De Gaulle" and appeared with William Hurt in "Do Not Disturb".

Francis joined in the fun at the Cult TV Festivals in 2002 and 2006.

 

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